Or something like that. You know we couldn’t end our blog without at least one story of traveling mishaps.
So there is a little thing called “Summer Time” (CEST) in Europe which is like our daylight savings time – everyone jumps forward an hour and you “lose” an hour of sleep. We knew this was taking place today – March 27 – and the day of our departure at 2 AM. Being responsible we set our alarms for an earlier start than usual just to be on the safe side. As the alarm awakens us at 5:15 AM we are left in complete confusion on whether it’s actually 5:15, or is it 4? Or could it be 6:15? A quick check of the internet leaves us in more confusion as the ‘world clock’ is telling us to move our time forward but still announces the unchanged time.
Wanting to play the ‘better safe than sorry’ card we got up anyway and quickly got ready to leave for the airport. *Cue next part of our exciting departure*. To get to CDG via public transport you take the metro to a station that also runs the RER (regional trains) which has one line dedicated to CDG. Perfect, right? Ha, you know me too well….
We are at the St Paul metro stop at 6:50 AM and are surprised to see a crowd of people hanging out above ground, some with suitcases. Then we see that the metro is gated off. Thinking that perhaps it does not open until 7 we wait. At 7 we assume that someone may have forgotten about CEST so we wait. About 30 minutes into our waiting and more and more people bailing to hail cabs we decide to walk to the nearest train station. Joy. We got to see the Notre Dame at sunrise! We got to see bums sleeping on makeshift cardboard beds! We got to wake up with the garbage men! And, by the way, you know you are up entirely too early when there are more people drunkenly stumbling home than heading out to start their day.
*Cue circus music* After a long haul across the Rue de Rivoli we arrive at the only open metro station (by this time we had passed two others – both closed). Here we encounter the lovely automated ticket machines which (quelle surprise!) do not accept non EU credit cards and only accept CHANGE. As in no paper money. After the information desk attendant announced that she was unable to help us because the register is closed and that it “is not her problem”. Adam bravely heads out to find an open café to give us change. McDonalds obliges, but only for 10 euros worth. We need 18. We finally catch a break when a new desk attendant (still closed by the way) allows us to go through the first check point sans ticket. At the second check point we decide to do as the Parisians do at what is apparently an unearthly early hour – buy one ticket and skip the other person through. Success!
Just when you thought our travel adventures had ended we encounter our next hurtle: the CDG line of the RER is closed, we have to take a different line to the end, get onto a shuttle and THEN we will arrive at CDG. Okay – no problem. Except for the shuttle part – shoving 50 people with luggage onto a shuttle that takes 30 minutes around round abouts and sharp turns is not so fun in the morning.
We finally made it – what is supposed to be a 45 minute commute to the airport was roughly 2.5 hours. Security was a nightmare: “You have a small pair of scissors in your suitecase, we must check” “I don’t own a pair of scissors” *Points to screen to a fuzzy outline of an object that does not resemble scissors* “You do”. “Well you can check, but I don’t own any scissors”. *Upon taking out all of my belongings security officer shrugs when he does not find any scissors* “Huh.”
“Huh” is not the word I would’ve used but in the interest of not being detained by French police (not a joke, they do exist) I smiled my best ‘I told you so’ smile, put my belongings back, and went on my way.
Thankfully and gratefully we made it back safely and are getting adjusted to returning to work. It always goes by so quickly!